|Wot? Eh wot? Anyone there?|
These two were scrambling around in the iris leaves. They used their stubby wings like grapples to climb over the stems.
|Removing a faecal sac|
|Count the fuzzy black blobs. Are they chicks or shadows?|
|Three chicks. And the one at the back is bigger. Hang on, is that another leg?|
|How many chicks?|
|Yes, it's another leg. And where did the other one at the front come from? Five chicks.|
Myrtle only stopped when a small flotilla of mallards barged through the middle of the iris bed. This was an adult female (cane) with three well grown youngsters (canetons) at least as big as she was. La cane could easily have been "our" duck whose progress we observed over so many weeks. If so, she did well to raise three ducklings to the point where they will soon be independent. Myrtle's crew has a long way to go before that stage.
She had to reinforce the platform again today (14th July). The second adult seemed rather dithery, swimming up and down aimlessly most of the time, although she may have been guarding the chicks again. One chick insists on staying with Myrtle, and was treated to a sharp peck for getting out of hand. In one furious burst of activity the adults were working together, Myrtle (the dominant bird, generally the female in any kind of pair) was working on the platform while her helper carried materials in from the bank.
The helper is probably a daughter, a younger sibling or even an aunt. This kind of cooperation outside the pair bond is found normally between birds that are related. She has a small platform of her own, under the far bank. And some day she may become Myrtle and take over the iris bed.